Fragrance Notes Issue 1, 2019 - Page 10

FEATURE er University when P&G transferred him to Europe to run its diapers business in Italy. When asked how his engineering mind bleeds into his daily life, he doesn’t list things he can or can’t do but rather things he says he cannot not do. When driving, “I’m constantly mapping the next mile ahead of me, and I predict where cars are going to go and what holes are going to be created in traffic for me to sneak in or get ahead.” It’s inherent in everything he does. At work, “when I arrive at an assignment, and for the first three months, I just keep doing whatever was done before, but within three to five months, all of a sudden something hits me like a 2x4 in the face, and I know exactly what needs to be done. And then—boom—I go do it. And I think that’s engineering.” TOILET TISSUE TO DIAPERS TO PERFUME “So I was five years in school, and my mother thought I was going to be assigned to the space station, space shuttle, cure cancer, and there I was making toilet tissue.” Growing up in the era of cheap gasoline and ever- present petrochemical companies on campus, Miguel was convinced he’d eventually end up working at Exx- on or another leading petrochemical company. Instead, he began his career at P&G, where he was tasked with making toilet tissue (or toilet paper). That wasn’t the aspirational goal he—or his hardworking single moth- er—had in mind after spending five years at the Uni- versity. “How do you tell your mom, who helped you get through engineering school… that you’re making toilet tissue?” he says. “She thought that I was going to be assigned to the space station, or to cure cancer, and there I was making toilet tissue... I remember her saying to me, ‘So what do I tell my friends when they ask me what you do—that you make Charmin?’ I said, ‘No, mom, tell them I’m in high-speed manufactur- ing processes!’” He recalls he was frequently asking himself what he was doing there and promised himself he’d be moving on to the next job within two years. Having celebrated 40 years at P&G this year, Miguel laughs saying he simply “forgot to leave.” But he’s made great use of his time there, saying he’s “done everything under the sun… every possi- ble assignment already. I’ve changed the world three times, and I continue to be amazed that I did work that We need to help the general public understand what these ingredients really are, and the role fragrance plays in our lives. 10 | FRAGRANCENOTES.ORG | Issue 1, 2019 changed the lives of 5 billion people.” When asked why he’s stayed so long, he notes “when you invent something, when you develop something, when you take something to market, you’re actually changing so- ciety, improving society. Of course, P&G is a business engaged in the sale of products but, in the process, we make the world better. I can’t find many other jobs in the world that will give you that satisfaction.” He’s proud of his accomplishments overall but two things in particular stick out. He points to his work with Pampers diapers, something he says he “bet his career on.” He began working in diapers in the late 1980s, noting that, historically, diapers were bulky and “made out of fluff.” Innovating in the space, P&G cre- ated a diaper that was thinner and, by keeping babies drier, helped avoid diaper rash. Still, it was an uphill battle for Miguel and his team because it challenged conventional wisdom and thinking that thicker meant better. “When you think about it, any baby born after 1987 has had a better infancy, better development, more restful sleep, all as a result of our innovation with diapers.” Later, after taking over the company’s perfume business, Miguel significantly cut costs and improved productivity. “That’s how engineers work,” he says. “People ask me, ‘What do you do or make on a daily basis?’ Really it’s about optimization; we’ve taken this organization to the next level in performance and delivered meaningful savings in the process.” FRAGRANCE & OUR LIVES “Scent is unique versus everything else in the body... It’s wired directly to your pleasure centers, to your pain centers, to your love centers.” Entering the world of perfumery and fragrance was a natural fit for Miguel, especially because he under- stands that scent is a major part of our everyday lives. “Scent is our most primordial sense,” he says. “And it’s not processed in our cerebral cortex like the other senses. For example, you can hear voices; you can see visions; you can feel something touch you—even if that ‘something’ isn’t really there—because your brain can conjure those feelings. Scent goes from the nose to the amygdala to the memory centers, the emotion centers—you can’t remember scent. You can’t dream scent. You can’t imagine it. For example, if I ask you to remember the smell of a rose, you actually remem- ber the rose itself.” Our sense of smell is also extremely unique compared to everything else in the body. “It is wired directly to your three or five survival instincts,” he says. “It’s wired directly to your pleasure centers, to your pain centers, to your love centers. It is a needed, critical part of bonding of parent to child, friend to friend, partner to partner, pet to human, human to pet. The example I give people is that when you hug your child, your partner, 99 percent of the time you’ll smell